If {this is my internet} Then {it should do what I want it to do}. Meet ifttt.

If Then This That is a new service that lets users create tasks across different web services.
BlogDog likes to push buttons.

We don’t typically write about products or tech companies on The Realtime Report.  But last week I came across a company that is doing something cool and very important:  giving users more control over their internet–the web now driven primarily by users sharing status updates, photos, videos, check-ins, etc.–and making it possible for the users to trigger actions across different web platforms.

Think about it.  On how many platforms do you currently maintain an identity of some kind? For yourself? For your brand? Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous, Disqus, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google Plus,  Dropbox, I’m out of breath!  And where did I post that photo that I want to add to this blog post again?  What if the photo I want was taken and posted as part of a Foursquare check-in–but I want to share it with my friends on Facebook?

Now you can.  In a huge step forward for letting users have more control over their web experience, a company called ifttt (If This Then That) has created a simple application that lets users combine actions across different platforms or channels.  You set up a “trigger”  (IF “I am tagged in a photo on Facebook” or IF “I upload a photo when I check in to Foursquare”), and then define an “action” (THEN “upload the photo to Flickr”).  You can customize the action by including “addins” from the trigger, such as tags or descriptions.  This ifttt task sends photos I upload to Foursquare to my Flickr stream

That’s it.  You’ve now given the internet a new task that it will do for you.  You can change, edit or turn it on and off anytime you want.

There are currently 35 different channels, from Craigslist to Zootool, that let you create an amazing variety of tasks.  Some channels create many different types of triggers.  For instance, from Twitter, you can create triggers from tweets with specific senders, hashtags, search terms, mentions, links and more.  And then there are a variety of addins that let you customize the action that is triggered, so the possible combinations seem endless.  It’s like being able to create macros for the internet.

Once a task has been defined, you can share it as a “recipe,” available for other users to chose from and replicate.  ifttt has just recently come out of beta, but there are currently 2512 recipes  (and counting) that have already been created and shared, ranging from


And then there’s this brilliant recipe, which is designed to “text IFTTT in order to receive a fake call to get you out of almost any situation.”  (Thank you, @savagedisaster.)

As you can tell from the screenshots, the user interface is really simple and makes creating tasks very easy to do.  The only piece that might be intimidating for a novice user is the “addins” option, but you can skip that and just use the default if you’re not sure what the different options do.

ifttt was created by Linden Tibbets, Jesse Tane, and Alexander Tibbets.  The company launched in private beta in December of 2010, and opened to the public  on September 7, 2011.  On their blog, and in an interview with Springwise.com earlier this year, the ifttt team describe their application as being inspired by the way people are naturally creative about re-purposing objects or tools in real life (for example, a pencil becomes a hair pin, superglue becomes a first-aid tool).  Their vision is to offer us the same sense of freedom and creativity online.  Linden Tibbets “believes everyone will want that same flexibility of choice and control in [their] digital environments, especially as the digital and physical environments converge.”

So the next time you feel like one of the major social networks wants to own all your life, spend a little time with ifttt, and remind yourself who’s really in charge.